Guest Post: David B. Coe

David B. Coe is another fantasy author whom I met through the work before meeting him in person. I have the clearest memory of reading and recommending David’s books when I had my bookshop. Imagine my joy (and relief!) when I discovered he is a truly lovely guy as well as an entertaining writer. I have read Spell Blind,  the first book in his new urban fantasy series, and it’s a great addition to the genre, highly recommended. It now gives me great pleasure to share this Q&A David and I did recently, to celebrate the upcoming release of his two new books: His Father’s Eyes (August 4) and Dead Man’s Reach (out now) … DBJacksonPubPhoto800

Tell us about your love affair with speculative fiction: when it started, how it’s progressed over the years, which books, authors and experiences have influenced you throughout your career. I was eleven years old and attending a sleepaway summer camp. My parents thought I would enjoy doing theater and so I tried out for a play with a weird name and got the lead part playing a character who had an even weirder name. The play was a dramatization of The Hobbit, and I, of course, played Bilbo Baggins. I loved the role and the story, and upon returning home started reading the book. By the time I’d finished, I was hooked. I read Lord of the Rings, next and knew then that I wanted to read as much fantasy as possible. A few years later, I read Stephen R. Donaldson’s first Thomas Covenant trilogy, and realized that I wanted to spend my life writing fantasy. The books were so strange and dark; the lead character both repelled and intrigued me. I was fascinated by the possibilities. If Donaldson could do this with his series, what might I do with books of my own? I’ve since fallen in love with the books of Guy Gavriel Kay. I think he is the author who has most influenced my work stylistically. I could go on. I have so many friends who write professionally, and I’ve read so much terrific speculative fiction over the years. But really those are the three who shaped my professional development the most: Tolkien, Donaldson, and Kay. You started out writing otherworldly/epic fantasy. What was the attraction there? In what ways did those stories scratch your storytelling itch? I think in large part it was the influence of those three authors I just mentioned. The works that informed my creative ambitions were also epic, alternate world fantasies, and so that was what I wanted to write. Early on, I never even considered writing anything else. My heroes wrote epic, so I would, too. It helped that before embarking on my writing career, I had earned a doctorate in history. I understood how history worked, how economies, cultures, and societies developed. My degree was in environmental history, and so I even had a sense of how the physical terrain and climate of a nation might shape the human institutions that grew up in that setting. I felt comfortable creating worlds for my stories, and I was eager to see what I might come up with as I blended my historical background with my passion for magic and fantasy. Tell us about the series you’re writing under your pen name D. B. Jackson. How did the spark of that series ignite, what enchants you about it, why do you think readers will enjoy it, and what can we look forward to in the latest installment? deadmansreachAs D.B. Jackson, I write the Thieftaker Chronicles, a historical urban fantasy set in Boston during the 1760s and 1770s, on the eve of the American Revolution. Ethan Kaille, my lead character, is a conjurer and a thieftaker, the 18th century equivalent of a private detective. Each book is a stand-alone mystery blended with some key historical event, with a little bit of magic thrown in — so again, I get to blend my love of history and my love of fantasy. This newest installment, Dead Man’s Reach, coincides with the Boston Massacre in March 1770. The books are tremendous fun to write, in part because of the challenge each represents. My goal is to blend my fictional elements — my characters and magic system, the murder mysteries and narratives — with actual historical happenings, in a way that seems completely natural and seamless. I don’t want my readers to know where the history ends and the fiction begins. The inspiration for the series actually came to me years ago, as my wife and I were preparing to live in Australia for a year. I read Robert Hughes’ fine history of Australia, The Fatal Shore, which traced Australia’s origins as a penal colony. In the early chapters, while discussing the British law enforcement system of the 18th century, he went on at some length about thieftakers and some of the colorful and corrupt personalities who roamed the streets of London “solving” crimes. I knew then that I wanted to write books about thieftakers. It took a few years — I had another series to write — but eventually I came back to that inspiration and wrote Thieftaker, the first book in the series. The rest, as they say, is history. You’ve also got a new series started in your David Coe persona: this time urban fantasy. What prompted the shift to this subgenre? Tell us about the different demands of writing urban fantasy, compared with epic fantasy and alternate history fantasy. What delights you about this series? hisfatherseyesYes, under my own name I am writing a contemporary urban fantasy series called The Case Files of Justis Fearsson. Again, I get to mix magic and mystery in a series of stand-alones, which I really enjoy. The magic system in this one is different from anything I’ve done before. My lead character, Justis Fearsson, is a weremyste. Every month on the full moon, and the nights just before and after, he loses control of his mind and his magic. And slowly, these moon phasings, as they’re called, are driving him permanently insane, just as they did his father, who is also a character in the series. These books are the first novel length works I’ve written in first person, and I just love the voice of the series. Part of that is the fact that they’re set in our world and in our time. For once, I get to write books about people driving cars, using modern technology, speaking in a modern, natural lexicon. It was very freeing, which was the whole point. I started writing these because I wanted to change things up a bit, to try something new. I like jumping around among different subgenres. I think it keeps my writing fresh. It certainly keeps me from ever feeling bored with my work. I’ll go back and write more epic and more historical, but these books have been tremendous fun. The newest volume, His Father’s Eyes, which comes out on August 4, includes a chapter from the perspective of Jay’s delusional father that may well be the best piece of writing I’ve ever done. ***** David B. Coe/D.B. Jackson is the award-winning author of eighteen fantasy novels. Under the name D.B. Jackson, he writes the Thieftaker Chronicles, a historical urban fantasy from Tor Books that includes Thieftaker, Thieves’ Quarry, A Plunder of Souls, and, the newest volume, Dead Man’s Reach, was released on July 21. Under his own name, he writes The Case Files of Justis Fearsson, a contemporary urban fantasy from Baen Books. The first volume, Spell Blind, debuted in January 2015. The newest book in the series, His Father’s Eyes, comes out on August 4. He lives on the Cumberland Plateau with his wife and two daughters. They’re all smarter and prettier than he is, but they keep him around because he makes a mean vegetarian fajita. When he’s not writing he likes to hike, play guitar, and stalk the perfect image with his camera.

Guest Post: Lucy Hounsom

Starborn cover   It’s now my great pleasure to introduce Lucy Hounsom and her debut fantasy novel, Starborn. This is the first in a new trilogy.

LucyHounsomLucy works for Waterstones Booksellers in London, and has a BA in English & Creative Writing from Royal Holloway. She went on to complete an MA in Creative Writing under Andrew Motion in 2010. She lives in Devon.
Here’s Lucy in her own words …
“Both the characters and the central idea that drives Starborn have been around for a long time. I wrote the first chapter over ten years ago as a naïve seventeen year old and then set the story aside when I went to university. But it bubbled away beneath the surface, never leaving me alone, until I knew that I had to write it even if it never got published. That’s the thing about stories – they beg to be told, to be shared and this one is a culmination of everything I’ve ever loved about fantasy. Books by authors like Tolkien, Robin Hobb, Patricia McKillip Ursula Le Guin and countless others made being an awkward teenager bearable, and at the same time convinced me that I wanted to write too. The idea that people could enjoy my stories in the same way is part of why I write. To create a world so immersive that it’s able to sweep you away for a time – that’s my goal. And fantasy is a wonderful cloth to weave; its threads are rich and steeped in history. It’s able to express archetypes in a way quite unlike any other literary genre. To me, writing and fantasy are seamlessly interwoven and in all honesty I’m not sure I could write anything else. So what do I love about this genre? The worldbuilding for starters – I love exploring worlds so like and unlike our own. In those worlds, the impossible becomes the possible, lands are populated with strange peoples and creatures, and there’s an overriding sense of the epic – the struggle that so defines our race. I love the characters we meet in fantasy, the heroes, the antiheroes, the villains, the rogues, the innocents. When we read a story, we automatically become the protagonist; we suffer through their trials, we’re with them when they fall in love, we look out of their eyes at the unfolding of events. When it comes to character, traditionally fantasy has drawn rather distinct lines between ‘good’ and ‘evil’; the hero is often Campbellian, the villain his recognisable opposite. While movements like grimdark have turned that tradition on its head, I set out with a different aim, which was to tell a story that explored heroism as a concept instead of a given trait. I started with the phrase, ‘one man’s heroism is another man’s tyranny’ and thought about the subjectivity that statement embodies. It suggests heroism is defined by context and individual perspective, instead of objective characteristics. The crux of Starborn – as Kyndra, my protagonist, comes to discover – hinges on the actions of one man, whose crowning achievement makes him a saviour in some eyes and a monster in others. It’s up to the reader to decide which he is, or even whether it matters to the histories. This discussion provides the background context for Kyndra herself. I wanted to move away from the established rendering of the Garion[1]-type hero as a hard-working, honest sort, instead drawing Kyndra as she would more likely be, living in a small community: sheltered, idealistic, stubborn. We are shaped by our childhood and our childhood environment and our earliest experiences colour everything we do. Kyndra has an unbelievably long journey ahead of her, which changes her more than she could ever imagine, so I wanted her to retain the roots of her thinking, to see the world – rightly or wrongly – through the eyes of someone who has grown up in an isolated community at peace. The very concept of war is alien to her, as are the attitudes that foster it, and she struggles to understand the divisions responsible for fragmenting a society. When you want to explore a particular subject, I think it’s important to have a recognisable base as reference, so there’s a lot you’ll find familiar about Starborn. It’s a rite of passage novel where the protagonist is living an ordinary life in a small corner of the world, but is inevitably swept up in wider events. Kyndra learns what it means to take control of those events instead of letting them steer her course and she comes face to face with the idea of destiny and what it might require of her. Of course Starborn is also full of magic, mysterious citadels, buried truths and unresolved conflicts – all the elements that make epic fantasy such fun to read and write. I love this genre for its possibilities, its powerful nostalgia for bygone eras. I love its various characters and settings, from dragons to sorcerers to epic battles. Fantasy allows us to ask poignant questions about society while sweeping us off on an epic journey with people in whom we can see ourselves. I’ve just finished the first draft of Book Two, where Kyndra and her companions encounter a host of new challenges. I always envisioned the series as a trilogy, so that the characters I’ve come to love have room to grow and time in which to tell their stories, and I can’t wait to share them with you.” [1] The hero of The (excellent ) Belgariad by David Eddings
Starborn is available now in-store and online. If you enjoy fantasy adventure with a strong female central character, some mystery and some romance, give it a read!

City of Stars guest post, and other stuff

So I was very kindly asked to do a guest post for the great blog City of Stars. Shortly thereafter my stupid liver decided to knock me for six, and then a couple of lumbar discs slipped … so it’s been fun, fun, fun at Casa Karen. Not. And sigh. And moan. And grumble.

However, I’m on the mend and back on my feet and now playing crazy catch-up. To that end, here’s the link to that guest post!


Guest Post: Lara Morgan

Welcome to the Talkative Writer’s guest post with Australian speculative fiction writer Lara Morgan.

lara morgan 1Lara Morgan lives and writes in Geraldton, Western Australia. She writes fantasy for adults and YA. Her fantasy series The Twins of Saranthium is set in a world of deserts and jungle with twins Shaan and Tallis pitted against ancient resurrected gods and serpents in a struggle to save the people and lands of Saranthium from those who would enslave it.

Book two, Betrayal, is available now in ebook from Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Kobo and other ebook outlets. To learn more about her, visit her website.

Now here is Lara in her own words …

Betrayal is the second book in my epic fantasy trilogy, The Twins of Saranthium and it was also the second book I ever wrote. I was one of those lucky writers who had the first book I wrote (Awakening, book one in the series) published – but before you start turning green and looking with despair at your pile of rejected novels, there’s more to this story.

Continue reading

Guest Post: Robert V. S. Redick

Welcome to the Talkative Writer’s guest post with US speculative fiction writer Robert V. S.  Redick.

robertvsredickRobert V.S. Redick  is the author of the epic fantasy series The Chathrand Voyage Quartet. The four books received great critical and popular acclaim, with Locus Magazine calling the Quartet “one of the most distinctive and appealing epic fantasies of the last decade”, and Paul di Filippo “a Kidnapped  or Treasure Island for contemporary times.” He divides his time between Bogor, Indonesia, and Western Massachusetts. He is currently at work on a new fantasy series. For more information you can visit his website.

Now, here is Robert in his own words …


Old clichés die hard. India and Brazil have space programs, but in certain imaginations their names will never conjure more than soccer clubs and snake charmers. National park rangers hold doctorates, but they’re still dismissed as boy scouts who never grew up. Similar stale and shrivelled chestnuts rattle around in our collective psyche when we think of writers. Allow me a moment to grind two of these into meal.

The first is that writers are lucky scammers. They unspool a few yarns, strike it rich, chat up Oprah, sell the film rights and wallow in public adoration to their dying day (a day which presumably begins with a sturgeon omelet, three shots of mescal and sex with a young admirer).

Continue reading

Guest Post: Angus Watson

Welcome to the Talkative Writer’s guest post with British speculative fiction writer Angus Watson.

Angus WatsonIn his twenties, Angus Watson’s jobs ranged from forklift truck driver to investment banker. He spent his thirties on various assignments as a freelance writer, including looking for Bigfoot in the USA for the Telegraph, diving on the scuppered German fleet at Scapa Flow for the Financial Times, and swimming with sea lions off the Galapagos Islands for the Times. Now entering his forties, Angus lives in London with his wife Nicola and baby son Charlie. As a fan of both historical fiction and epic fantasy, he came up with the idea of writing a fantasy set in the Iron Age when exploring British hillforts for the Telegraph, and developed the story while walking Britain’s ancient paths for further articles.  Age of Iron, the first book of his Iron Age trilogy, will be published on September 2nd. You can find out more at his website.

AGE OF IRON Final cover

Now here is Angus in his own words …

I’m going through the copy edit of Clash of Iron – book two of the Iron Age trilogy – at the moment. The copy edit is the second last edit before publication, when an expert reads your book and says ‘this bit doesn’t work, that word’s wrong’ and so on, then you get to go through what they’ve said and lament how they just don’t understand you and change it all back…. Not really, my current copy editor, a man named Richard Collins, is excellent (the final edit is the proof edit – basically a spell check).

Anyway, reading this copy edit almost a year after I finished writing the book, I’m surprised to be surprised by the gore. It’s not wall to wall by any means – most of the book is Continue reading

Guest post: Donna Maree Hanson

Welcome to the Talkative Writer’s guest post with Australian speculative fiction writer Donna Maree Hanson.

DMHansonDonna Maree Hanson is a Canberra-based writer of fantasy, science fiction, horror  and, under a pseudonym, paranormal romance.  She has been writing creatively since November 2000. In January 2013, her first longer work,  Rayessa & the Space Pirates, was published with Harlequin’ s digital imprint. This novella length work is a young-adult, science-fiction adventure/romance (space opera). A sequel to Rayessa & the Space Pirates will be out with Escape in early 2015.

Dragon Wine is to be published by Momentum (Pan Macmillan Australia’s Digital Imprint) in two parts, Shatterwing and Skywatcher, in September and October 2014. She can be found at her blog here.

Now here is Donna in her own words:

Ten years in the making

I can’t believe it took ten years.

I have heard it said that it takes ten years to be an overnight success. Well, I’m not a success yet, though I suppose that depends on what the definition of success is. In my case, it is getting a story published that I’ve been working on for ten years, so maybe I am. Don’t get me wrong, I’ve been working on other stuff too. Continue reading

Guest post: Peter M Ball

Welcome to the Talkative Writer’s guest post with Australian speculative fiction writer Peter M Ball.

Peter BallPeter Ball is the manager of the Australian Writer’s Marketplace and co-ordinator of the bi-annual Genre Con writer’s conference. His SF and fantasy short fiction has been published in Strange Horizons, Apex Magazine and the Harper Voyager anthologies Dreaming Again and Year’s Best SF 15. In 2009, he won the Aurealis Award for Best Science Fiction Short Story. His novellas Horn and Bleed are currently available through Twelfth Planet Press, and he’ll be releasing Flotsam, an urban fantasy novella trilogy set on the Gold Coast, through Apocalypse Ink publishing in 2014. Find him online at


And now here is Peter in his own words:

There’s all sorts of advice out there about how to write a book. There is remarkably little that tells you what things will be like once the book is finished and released into the world, waiting for other people to read it. When you hit that point, you’re more-or-less on your own, despite the fact that it’s a strange and bewildering time for an emerging writer. Continue reading

Guest Post: Laura Anne Gilman

Welcome to the Talkative Writer’s guest post with American SF/Fantasy/Horror author Laura Anne Gilman.

Gilman_biophotoL.A Kornetsky is the author of the Gin & Tonic series (Collared, Fixed and Doghouse). Under the name Laura Anne Gilman, she writes SF/Fantasy and horror, including the Nebula-nominated Vineart War trilogy. She lives in NYC with two cats and a time-share dog, none of whom could catch a mouse, much less a criminal.

Learn more at or follow her on Twitter: @LAGilman.



And now here is Laura in her own words:

Mostly my advice to writers is “stop listening to other people and do what works consistently for you.” But when held to the wall and told to share something specific, I’ll choke out “show character!”

No, wait. It will make sense, I swear.

For example, me? I was always a mystery writer. But I didn’t write mysteries.

For years – for my entire writing career, really, I was a fantasy-genre girl, most noted for the Retrievers and PSI urban fantasy series, and the Nebula-nominated Vineart War epic fantasy trilogy. If you’d asked anyone, they would have said I was a fantasy writer, with occasional dabbles into horror and SF.

But a few years ago, the editor who had acquired the Vineart War trilogy came to me and said, (summing up) “most of your fantasy books are also mysteries, plot-wise.” Continue reading

Guest Post: Michael G Munz

Welcome to the Talkative Writer’s Guest post with American fantasy author Michael G. Munz

munz-author-photoAn award-winning writer of speculative fiction, Michael G. Munz was born in Pennsylvania but moved to Washington State in 1977 at the age of three. Unable to escape the state’s gravity, he has spent most of his life there and studied writing at the University of Washington, his goal being to tell entertaining stories that give to others the same pleasure as other writers have given to him. He enjoys writing tales that combine the modern world with the futuristic or fantastic.

Find out more about him at While there, it wouldn’t hurt to get a FREE copy of Mythed Connections, the spiritual prequel to Zeus is Dead.


Now here’s Michael in his own words:

So way back in 2002, after I’d finished the “final” draft of my very first book (a sci-fi novel titled A Shadow in the Flames), I began the process of trying to get the attention of literary agents in order to get it published. My plan: write some short stories, get those published in a magazine or two, and have something to tout in a query letter. Continue reading

Guest post: Marianne de Pierres

Welcome to The Talkative Writer’s guest post with Australian spec fic author Marianne de Pierres.


GR author pic_webMarianne de Pierres is the author of the popular PARRISH PLESSIS trilogy, the award-winning SENTIENTS OF ORION science fiction series, and the genre-bending PEACEMAKER Western/urban fantasy series. The PARRISH PLESSIS series has been translated into many languages and adapted into a role-playing game, while the PEACEMAKER series is being adapted into a novel adventure game. Marianne has also authored children’s and young adult stories, notably the Night Creatures trilogy, a dark fantasy series for teens. Marianne is an active supporter of genre fiction and has mentored many writers. She lives in Brisbane, Australia, with her husband and three galahs (and once upon a time three sons–before they grew up). Marianne also writes award-winning crime under the pseudonym Marianne Delacourt. Visit her website at

And now here’s Marianne, in her own words …

I often get asked how I choose which project to work on next. Occasionally, the answer is terribly prosaic i.e. whichever book I’m contracted to produce. But whenever I’m out of Continue reading

Guest Post: D.B. Jackson

Welcome to The Talkative Writer’s guest post with American fantasy author D.B. Jackson.
DBJacksonPubPhoto800D.B. Jackson is also David B. Coe, the award-winning author of more than a dozen fantasy novels. His first two books as D.B. Jackson, the Revolutionary War era urban fantasies, Thieftaker and Thieves’ Quarry, volumes I and II of the Thieftaker Chronicles, are both available from Tor Books in hardcover and paperback. The third volume, A Plunder of Souls, has recently been released in hardcover. The fourth Thieftaker novel, Dead Man’s Reach, is in production and will be out in the summer of 2015. D.B. lives on the Cumberland Plateau with his wife and two teenaged daughters. They’re all smarter and prettier than he is, but they keep him around because he makes a mean vegetarian fajita. When he’s not writing he likes to hike, play guitar, and stalk the perfect image with his camera. You can find him at

And now here’s D.B., in his own words:

Riots in the streets of Colonial Boston, Samuel Adams (the historical figure, not the beer), British soldiers (also known as Redcoats, also known as Lobsterbacks), smallpox Continue reading

Guest post: Joshua Palmatier

Welcome to The Talkative Writer’s guest post with American fantasy author Joshua Palmatier.

PalmatierJoshua Palmatier is an epic fantasy writer with a PhD in mathematics.  He currently has six books out from DAW, including the “Throne of Amenkor” trilogy and book one of a new series, “Shattering the Ley”.  His short stories appear in numerous anthologies and he has edited three anthologies with co-editor and co-conspirator Patricia Bray, including “Clockwork Universe: Steampunk vs Aliens” (coming August 2014).  He is also the founder of the small press Zombies Need Brains LLC, which will produce SF&F themed anthologies.  You can find him at

And now here’s Joshua, in his own words:

One of the main questions I get asked about any of my books is where the idea came from, and for Shattering the Ley, I think the story is quite interesting, so I thought I’d focus on that.  You see, back in the 80s I was reading a ton of fantasy, and nearly every single book (it seemed) mentioned magical ley lines, the mystical force that supposedly Continue reading

Guest Post: Carol Berg

Welcome to The Talkative Writer’s guest post with American fantasy author Carol Berg.

CarolBergCarol majored in mathematics at Rice University and computer science at the University of Colorado, so she wouldn’t have to write papers. But somewhere in the middle of a software engineering career, she started writing for fun. The habit ate her life. Carol’s epic fantasy novels have won national and international awards, including multiple Colorado Book Awards and the Mythopoeic Fantasy Award for Adult Literature. They’ve been read, so readers tell her, on five continents, on a submarine under the Mediterranean, in the war zone of Iraq, and on the slopes of Denali.

Her newest novel, Dust and Light, is the first of a new fantasy/mystery duology about a sorcerer who draws portraits of the dead. Publishers Weekly calls it “a captivating and satisfying fantasy epic” and RT Book Reviews names it “outstanding.” Carol lives in Colorado and on the internet at www.


And now here’s Carol, in her own words:

Thanks for having me in, Karen. Since we’re celebrating the launch of your new series, I thought I might talk about some of the series-related questions I hear a lot. Questions, such as:

How do you know whether a story is going to be a series or a standalone novel?
Do you outline your entire series all at once? Continue reading